Local planning is high on the agenda at the moment, as the Government has told councils that they have to have produced their Local plans by early 2017.
Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has said that local authorities have had more than 10 years to produce plans, and that while 82 per cent of them have, action needs to be taken to ensure that the others produce theirs to the required standard.
In a recent written statement he said: “In cases where no Local plan has been produced by early 2017 – five years after the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework – we will intervene to arrange for the plan to be written, in consultation with local people, to accelerate production of a Local plan.”
Local Plans lay out the policies for any future development and also make allocation for sites for certain uses such as employment, leisure, housing and so on.
What does this mean in practice?
While we are glad to see action taken to ensure that Local Plans are up to date as soon as possible, one does have to wonder how the Government thinks it will be able to speed up the production of a Local plan quicker than a council can. Does it mean that they will make more money available for resources, or will they do away with some of the key consultation phases in order to speed things up – and if that is the case what will that mean for good-quality plan making and development in any district or borough that is affected in this way.
What about the Brownfield sites?
As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the government has said it will automatically grant permission for brownfield sites – that is those that have already been developed. These sites must be on a brownfield register that must now be produced. However, while the register is already being prepared for London with the help of consultants, that is not likely to be ready until the end of 2015.
Moreover, for councils outside London it is not at all clear if they are going to have similar resources made available – so how long will it be before their brownfield registers are complete? If that is the case, this initiative is going to have little impact on development in the near future.
It would also seem that sites included on the Brownfield register would simply have the principle of development conferred upon it, which means that detailed planning permission is still required. It is accepted that establishing the principle of development at a site will, to some extent , short-cut the planning process, but it is far from a ‘silver bullet’. One suggestion to complete the circle would be for councils to also provide detailed development guidance via Local Development Orders.
Watch this space!
There is still so much that has not been made clear in these latest Government initiatives, but we will watch developments with interest and ensure that we always pass on the latest information to our clients and via our blog.
If you would like to discuss your own project with us, or discuss a plan concerning the latest Government initiatives, or just find out more about what we do, please visit the website at www.apexplanning.co.uk or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org without obligation.